• Health

How to exercise safely during pregnancy

Pregnant woman swimming

In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:

  1. What are the benefits of exercising during your pregnancy?
  2. What are safe exercises and what exercises should you avoid?
  3. How do you stay safe while exercising?

Being pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop exercising. You might have to make some changes, though. It is important you talk to your doctor about exercising and exercise routines.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend pregnant women do moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 150 minutes every week. That’s a little more than 20 minutes per day. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating a little.

If you were very active before your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about doing the same workouts. If you haven’t exercised before, start gradually with as little as five minutes per day of activity.


  • Reduces back pain
  • Eases constipation
  • Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy and improves general fitness
  • Decreases the risk of medical conditions like gestational diabetes
  • Helps with weight loss after giving birth


Safe exercises include: 

  • Walking
  • Swimming and water exercises
  • Stationary bicycle. With a bicycle, you can fall or run into something.
  • Modified yoga or modified pilates. There are prenatal versions of these classes. Make sure to avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for extended periods of time.
  • If you are a runner, jogger or tennis player, talk to your doctor about continuing those activities.
Exercises you should avoid:

  • Contact sports where you could get hit in the stomach, including soccer, football and basketball
  • Skydiving
  • Any sport where you could fall, such as water skiing and horseback riding
  • “Hot yoga” so you don’t overheat
  • Scuba diving
  • Exercising at a high altitude (more than 6,000 feet) if you aren’t used to such an elevation


  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after any exercise.
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid overheating.
  • Don’t exercise in hot or humid environments.
  • Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back.

And stop exercising if you experience:

  • Dizziness, shortness of breath or a headache
  • Bleeding or fluid leaking from your vagina
  • Chest pain or muscle weakness
  • Calf pain
  • Contractions of your uterus

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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